Category Archives: Pragmatic Marketing
Years ago, I ran product management for several industry specific CRM data warehouses (in other words, business intelligence) for Teradata . My team worked with large Teradata customers including Wal-Mart, Bell South (now AT&T), Delta and Continental Airlines and other household names who were using Teradata to locate all their customer data and compile it in a system capable of analyzing customer buying trends. The goal was to increase cross selling and up-selling to existing customers as well as to retain them (at least the profitable ones!). Data mining (“what if I did X instead of Y”) type analysis could help target new customers as well.
It was interesting, and profitable. The customers targeted in different market segments (like Retail, Banking, Telecom, Travel, Hospitality and Healthcare) saved money because they did not have to “tweak” generic systems to their industry variances. It was profitable for Teradata, because a good chunk of development could be spread over multiple customers instead of starting from “scratch” each time.
No CRM solution can be 100% “off the shelf” — even for small businesses. There are certain things that are unique to the way a company does business. Yet, the more that can be “out of the box” and functional, the faster the rewards and the easier to get it up and running.
The reason I’m traveling down memory lane is because last week I received an email from Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market Analyst. She wondered if I’d be interested in blogging on the topic of industry specific CRM applications built around Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
If you’ve read my blog for awhile you may know I am a big fan of Dynamics CRM. My curiosity was raised so I check out her blog, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Industry Solutions: Our 15 Favorites.” Since there are over 750 industry solutions built around Dynamics CRM this was quite an undertaking!
For easy navigation, the article links each industry to its corresponding solution:
If you take a look at any of these solutions for your industry segment heed these warnings: check out the vendor’s track record for keeping up to date with Dynamics CRM. Any time you have a third party “adding value” to another vendor’s product they can begin to slip behind in updates. Suddenly your third party application may not work with newer releases. Also, in your contract with the third party ask what happens if they go out of business. Any customer / vendor relationship is a bit like a marriage — so go into your relationship with your eyes wide open, and a pre-nup in hand!
It also behooves you to check some happy users who have been with the third party independent software vendor (ISV) for a few years, to make sure the customer support and “bug fixes” are fast and relatively painless. Keep in mind that you are paying a premium for the value add of the industry specific application (although you may get a discount on the CRM software) — do your due diligence to determine if the value you will get makes the additional cost of the third party application cost effective for your business.
Product management is a high wire act that requires two skills that seem opposed to each other. On the one had a product manager must be artistic and innovative — able to spot trends, articulate the value to the market and envision the marketing plan. On the other had the role is very focused on the minute — ensuring that engineering is day by day fulfilling the requirements.
From identifying problems to be solved by the new product (or solution), to competitive analysis, to product roadmaps and strategy there are definite touch points in product management that have to follow along a project management type timeline. Pragmatic Marketing has famously articulated the steps common to the process in their Framework.
The functions of the job are normally tracked with Microsoft Office applications including Project, Excel and even PowerPoint and Word. This means difficulty in keeping the various sources in sync and reinventing the templates for each new release and offer. The seeming answer to the problem was a new class of software called PLM (product lifecycle management). Just as ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) automated the back office functions including finances and CRM (customer relationship management) automate interfacing with customers, PLM seemed like a brilliant solution that was desperately in need.
In a nutshell, PLM helps manage the entire lifecycle of a product or service from idea, through market analysis and need analysis and into design and manufacture, then to service and disposal. PLM connects people responsible in each steps as well as tracking necessary data, processes and business systems. In other words PLM automates and provides a product information backbone for the product development and delivery process.
By helping to automate, streamline and track the process of product development costs are reduced, time to market shortened and over all over sight and tracking greatly improved. The cost to implement is paid back quickly (if PLM is implemented properly), so this seems like a holy grail for product management.
So why is IBM abandoning ship?
IBM jus sold its PLM offering to Dassault Systèmes (DS). Sure, IBM says this is a strategic move and that DS is a partner — but since IBM has been a market leader in PLM does IBM see the handwriting on the wall? Is PLM an idea that just did not make it?
CIMdata, a PLM Consulting firm, writes that the PLM market grew 6.7% in 2008. That was the good news. CIMdata repoted that in 2009 PLM experienced a 12% decline! Revenue went from $15.96 billion in 2008, to $14.03 billion in 2009. This decline was larger than originally forecasted.
I’m not heralding the death of PLM. I’m a big proponent. It helps to standardize the process across product managers and indeed the entire organization. It is very cost effective. Still, is the sale of the IBM offering the canary in the coal mine? (Miners used to bring canaries into the mine with them and if the bird died they knew the air quality was declining, and left before they died themselves).
CIMdata states that the 2009 information is preliminary and reflects currency exchange rates—primarily the euro versus the dollar rather than a real decline in sales. CIMdata’s preliminary estimates indicate that investments in all sectors experienced declines in 2009 over 2008.
Is that true or is it trying to cast a good light on a bad revenue stream? CIMdata report (in their press release):
“Comprehensive cPDm dropped to $2.7 billion, a 10.9% decrease. Investments with cPDm Systems Integrators/VARs/Resellers decreased 10.6% to $3.87 billion. Digital Manufacturing investments declined 12.7% to $445 million. Multi-Discipline MCAD dropped 12.4% to $2.57 billion, while investments in Design-Focused MCAD declined 20% to $1.83 billion. The Simulation and Analysis sector of the Mainstream PLM market experienced a more modest decline of 6.4% to reach $2.13 billion in 2009 while Non-Bundled NC had a 19.1% decline to $475 million. The distribution of these investments as components of the full Mainstream PLM market is illustrated in Figure 1.:
Figure 1—2009 Mainstream PLM Market Sector Distributions (Millions)
(Market information represents CIMdata’s estimates)
“Mr. Amann commented, “While 2009 reflected a downturn in new PLM investments, companies retained maintenance and continued to spend on services in support of PLM activities already underway. Continuation of PLM programs indicates that more companies recognize the value that PLM provides in helping them maintain their competitive position during difficult economic times. Hardest hit were small- to medium-sized businesses who tend to be more subject to credit and cash flow issues. Many small companies had to stop their PLM investments while larger enterprises had the resources to sustain programs that were already underway.”
“Ed Miller, CIMdata President stated, “Even in economic downturns, those companies that sustain investments in PLM can become more efficient both by reducing cost and better leveraging existing resources. Importantly, investing in PLM helps position companies to develop and deliver market-leading products as the global economy improves.””
I hope they are right. Perhaps this is a blip caused by the economic times, but it is something to be aware of if considering PLM.
Last week I had the chance to travel to beautiful Cambridge, MA. Years ago AT&T sent me to MIT for various business courses, but I hadn’t been there in years. Coming from Orlando with its 100 plus degree days it was a pleasure to walk by the Charles River along with many others. The weather was perfect and I wasn’t the only one enjoying the gorgeous day.
I was in Cambridge to visit with Pegasystems, the leading BPM (business process management) software leader. Pega (as they are known) boasts major customers including Bank of America, three or four of the “Blues” (Blue Crosses) and many others.
BPM automates common work practices — and since many companies are like silos — marketing is independent of sales is independent of engineering is independent of shipping, most processes that cross departments (and don’t they all?) get there via email, voice mail, forms, excel spreadsheets. . . Even when the systems are the same the receiving department has to proactively pull the work into their world.
BPM not only automates processes across organizations, but using quality improvement methods and workflow automation work gets done faster and more efficiently — thus saving time and money. In the world of government regulation (such as Sarbanes-Oxley aka SOX) where companies had to keep a tighter track of financial information for auditing purpose) being able to not only automate processes, but to track them becomes a necessity.
Pega is #1 in the BPM software world with their SmartBPM® product. Their president, Alan Trefler was named “Computer Software Executive of the Year” at the 2009 American Business Awards. So in the world of BPM they are not only the market leader, but the thought leader. Pega is the leader in the Gartner Group “Magic Quadrant” for BPM.
Recently Pega has dipped its toe into the CRM (customer relationship management) world with their solution CPM (Customer Process Manager). They have build a contact center customer service support module on top of this BPM engine. While certainly not a “threat” to the more complete CRM vendors who go beyond the customer service space, the Pega solution is the next logical step for CRM.
Remember those corporate silos I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? All that great customer information winds up “usable” beyond the CRM application only if it is in a field in said record. Otherwise that valuable customer “gold” becomes embedded in notes that a CSR or sales rep makes of the contact, and are only available to those who sit and read those notes.
What Pega’s CRM does well is to integrate end-to-end customer-facing processes across not only departments but existing applications. If you already have Siebel and an (enterprise resource planning) ERP solution and a (supply chain management) SCM solution you can bring in Pega underneath them to streamline the hand off of a sale or problem resolution across organizations. Over time you can begin to implement some of their desktop apps that can be very easily modified on the fly. The power of Pega’s ability to pull this off is shown in their 50% plus growth in the last year.
The most amazing thing about Pega is that they are aimed at the big companies — 1,000 plus users. Many CRM applications simply can’t scale to large implementations, but Pega can — and it does so based on an open architecture (java).
Pega does have competitors in this new CRM hybrid space. Chordiant and Sword Ciboodle (a really excellent offer from a Scottish company who is making inroads into the States) to consider along with Pega if the process oriented CRM approach makes sense in your company.
The traditional CRM vendors have noted the interested a hybrid BPM / CRM approach and all have some iteration of it on their product roadmaps. If you’re interested in the CRM world, take a look at Pega, Chordiant ans Sword Ciboodle to get a feel for your future.